POETRY

Eighth Reverie of Magellan

By

The crew assembled, every eye cast down.
No noose. Bare hands. A breathless man sinks down.

Spread-eagled on both feet, or on bent knees,
no pirate worth his salt lusts lying down.

Ashore, we offer scissors and a mirror.
The hill tribes send their youngest women down.

We’re men, not beasts. We bugger only whores
and hand-cuffed native thieves—their faces down.

Though faceless is the Sailor’s Sin, they’ll meet:
shipmaster’s beard, ship cabin-boy’s soft down.

Tender hardtack, hemplight, dulcet brine,
breathless without toil—world upside down!

There’ll be no other sea in which to drown.
Drop sail. Boy overboard—! Man down.

Our compass and our sextant twist the truth.
Tonight our pole star’s view calls all ways down.

Yes, hood the executioner, Magellan.
Let your name and not his be written down.

(for Antonio Salamón and Antonio Ginovés)

In the early eighties, R. Nemo Hill was convicted of locking himself overnight in the basement of the local post office, and licking all the stamps. As punishment for this reckless criminal act he was forced to publish, in collaboration with painter Jeanne Hedstrom, an illustrated novel based upon the processes of medieval alchemy (Pilgrim's Feather, Quantuck Lane)--as well as a book-length poem in heroic couplets, based upon a short story by H. P. Lovecraft (The Strange Music of Erich Zann, Hippocampus), and a chapbook (Prolegomena To An Essay On Satire, Modern Metrics). His most recent book is a collection of poems (When Men Bow Down, Dos Madres). He is also the editor/publisher of EXOT BOOKS and blogs at ELSEWHERE.

The crew assembled, every eye cast down.
No noose. Bare hands. A breathless man sinks down.

Spread-eagled on both feet, or on bent knees,
no pirate worth his salt lusts lying down.